Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Top of Many Colors is finished!

It's a simple little tee top and I love it. Here are the details.


I used as a base Vogue 9305, a tunic with a long hi lo hem, split front and drapey flounce.  I really like the way the bodice fit on that pattern  and was hoping to morph it into a plain tee. I wanted to come up with a pattern that I could use over and over again, something that could lend itself to lots of interpretation. I was also inspired by the work of designer  Susan Eastman. She uses various fabrics in simple classic designs like tees and kimonos. I got out the pattern, played around, and came up with a muslin.  I made so many changes I am not sure it is even the pattern any more. Here are the changes I made:

* Made the neckline wider and lower all around.
* Widened the bodice to near the width of the hips.
* Used one side of the pattern bodice on the fold to make a solid front.
* Eliminated the split and flounce.
* Shortened to make an upper hip length.
* Added the pocket and decorative strip.
*Added a sleeveless lining.
*I did use the sleeve extension exactly as the pattern spec'd. I think it is the only part of the pattern that remains untouched.


This was made with a combination of woven fabrics, the turquoise is 100% linen and the navy and  aqua are Kaufman yarn dyeds of linen and cotton blend. I absolutely love that fabric and have used it many times in other colorways. The vertical strip on the bodice is a batik leftover and the sleeves and pocket are a hand dyed silk I dyed many moons ago. I loved the process of pulling the fabrics and see ing what worked together, sewing heaven!


To start I needed a full pattern of the front bodice to work from. With that on the table I could manipulate the size and placement of my fabrics. I pieced them together with straight stitching and triple zigzaging the edges. For some reason I just couldn't get into my serger for this. I kept envisioning lots of color changes and it took the fun out of that prospect for me. The triple zigzag worked just fine. The edges were enclosed in that stitch.

 After the bodice was pieced I attached the tiny pocket and the vertical strip, doing both with an obvious blind hem stitch for a bit of interest.

 I worked out the sleeve pieces and added them on.

The cuff part of the sleeve were the silk hand dyeds. On them I used a classic "baby hem". You can see here that I actually pieced the fabric used for this section of cuff. You would never even notice. If you have ever dyed your own fabrics you will understand how you feel that you must use every single inch of them so when I didn't have enough length for the second cuff I simply pieced it from some odd scraps. It works.

I knew I wanted this lined to cover up all those stitched seams. However, I did not want lined sleeves. I took out the pattern I made and cut the sleeve area back to the armscye. I stitched this up at the side seams with French seams. I stitched the edges of the armholes with a shell stitch. My plan was to do a shell stitch on the bottom edge as well but in the end I decided to make the hem of the top a couple inches longer, totally forgetting my lining would now be too short. Once I realized that mistake, surely there would be leftover lining fabric for me to just add a band for the hem, right? No right! The best I could do was come up with a close match but when this was all that was holding up completion of the top, I went with it and I think it is just fine. I added on the hem band and the length was now spot on. The lining was done!

Above you can see how I did the hem, it's become a signature with nearly all the past couple year's garments. I do a 1/8th or even 1/16th inch topstitch  right on the hem edge, by machine, and then another row of topstitching 1 and 1/4 inch away from the bottom to secure the rest of the hem. You can also see how the blind stitch secured the vertical band. There was no intention to make it "blind", just a bit decorative.

I really didn't want any topstitching on this top other than the hem edge. I was afraid it would look too "quilt-y"  if I did that. In the pic above you can see how I triple zigzagged the understitching to the seam allowances to keep it tamed and I also ditch stitched in the well of the  two seam lines, where the red arrows are pointing, to further secure the lining. This should not turn to the outside.


I now have a tried and true top that I can see being made in wools for winter, knits, and summery wovens. I think I can creatively change it up a lot and already have ideas swimming around for the next one. My husband absolutely loved this one, particularly the colors and said to keep them coming! I will commit it to oak tag, and the Tried and True file and really look forward to making it again. I feel like I worked out the kinks on this one and the next one should be smooth sailing.

Bottom line, if you have a pattern that you like the fit of but don't want to make that design over and over again, give it a good look. Does it have the basics of a classic bodice, sleeve, hemline? If it fits that great, it is well worth taking the time to work out a new pattern from that original. You won't regret it. Is this Vogue 9305, or my own design, Bunny 1001? 


  1. Realy nice and thank you for all the details. I am going to try something like that with some handwoven/printed fabric I brought from India and Japan.

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    2. Sounds wonderful. It really is such fun to think of the tee as a canvas. For me, a tee was always a tight, knit thing I wore in the summer to garden. This is a whole vision and I really like it. Enjoy your project. (Just re-entered this to fix spelling errors.)

  2. This top is so beautiful and expressive!

  3. Definitely Bunny 1001!!! :)

    It turned out just as beautiful as I’d imagined. Just beautiful.

  4. That's so cool!!! I love the colors in it. Great work!

  5. I love your top! Great fabric combinations! Looks lovely on you; great job!

  6. I enjoyed reading all the details of your very creative tee!

  7. Truely inspiring! Color combinations are terrific. My favorite is your husband loving it as well and telling you to keep them coming.

  8. You did a fantastic job of creating a simple but well-shaped top with long, slightly full sleeves that looks great on your petite frame. Kimono sleeves can be especially challenging in that regard as they are so often cut too large to avoid being cut too small. Well done!

  9. Your top is fantastic. Very inspiring.

  10. That is gorgeous and looks perfect on you, I admire your many skills! The proportions are great . If I were to try something like this, I am pretty sure it would come out looking like a craft project, while yours looks polished and stylish. I hope you love wearing it.

  11. Thank you, everyone, for all these lovely comments. So much of what I learned in doing custom window designs and interiors, I translate to garments. It's really the same, just on a much smaller scale... dominant colors, accents, repetition, etc. etc. etc. It's ingrained from years in that trade and I think just comes out when I am doing anything with multiple fabrics. I loved doing it for interiors and love doing it just as much for garments.

  12. Inspiring - and I love the applique strip running down off center.

  13. So beautiful as always Bunny, you make each pattern uniquely yours.
    Have great fun wearing your stunning new top.
    Thanks so much for all the details, it is so encouraging and I know it spurns me on to be better each time I make another garment.

  14. It's lovely Bunny. The colors are great on your and the fit is perfection.

  15. Thanks, all. I want to say it's a struggle to find casual clothing that just plain looks nice but still casual. I think this design fits that bill and that is really why it deserves my T&T status. I hope I can get just as lucky with some pants and then I will be on a roll!


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